Pain Medications for Labor
Every woman's tolerance for pain differs. Some can breathe through contractions and effectively use relaxation techniques right through delivery while others need pain medication early in labor. Understanding what medications are available can help make the process more manageable. Here are some of the most common pain medication options for labor:
- Analgesics – These lessen pain without loss of muscle movement. They usually do not stop pain completely.
- Regional anesthesia – This lessens or blocks pain below the waist and causes loss of feeling in the lower part of the body. This includes epidurals, spinals and combined epidural-spinal blocks.
- General anesthesia – This creates loss of consciousness and generally is used only during emergency situations.
- Local anesthesia – This provides relief in a small area and is usually used when an episiotomy is needed or when a repair is being done after delivery.
An epidural is most commonly used for pain control during labor and delivery by American women. Side effects can include a decrease in blood pressure, fever, headache and backache after delivery. Your doctor or midwife can help you decide which medication option is best for your labor.